Sidor som bilder

"Primitive Life” is that which logically holds first place in the volume. It is a most interesting and most instructive chapter. Our author maintains, as most Christians would be likely to maintain, that mankind commenced well ; that both in the days of Adam and in the days of Noah, men had a high degree both of natural and of supernatural knowledge ; and that savagery, wherever found, is ultimately the result of ancestral degeneration. On the other hand, modern men of science, even those who believe that Mr. Darwin means nothing but rivalry of Artemus Ward, entertain very generally an opinion precisely the opposite. According to them, the race commenced with savagery, or worse : " Mankind was for a long period living in a state of promiscuity, little, if at all, elevated above the brute”; and “men appeared originally upon the scene as a mass of units coming into the world, no one knows how, like locusts rising about the horizon or covering the earth, perhaps, like toads after a shower.” In discussing this theory of primitive savagery, Lord Arundell is obliged to notice the exposition of it by a Mr. M‘Lennan, and it is the charming originality of that gentleman, quite worthy of primeval times, that makes the discussion especially piquant. We recommend Mr. M‘Lennan, for his soul's comfort, to read our author's third chapter. We think it will enable him to renounce his famous distinction between “exogamy,”—marriage outside your tribe,-and “endogamy,”marriage with one of your own people. That will, we are aware, be so much valuable Greek gone for nothing, and accordingly we so far commiserate Mr. M‘Lennan. But the loss to the scholar will be a gain to the man. The wholesale female infanticide and wife-capture committed by his ancestors will have no power to harrow his scientific feelings any more.

In the same chapter on “Primitive Life," our author touches on another question which he treats at large in a subsequent chapter (“Chronology from the Point of View of Science,” page 72). It is not at all as novel as the theme immortalized by Mr. M‘Lennan; in fact it has been so long before the public as to have become somewhat stale. Nevertheless, as we have never seen it handled quite to our satisfaction, and as our author appears to have no doubt that his book has settled it for ever, we beg to call our readers' attention to it here. It arises from a fundamental assumption on the part of modern scientific inquirers that man must have progressed and developed to the point at which we see him (page 72). According to the Bible narrative, man has not been upon the earth for more than six thousand years. But Baron Bunsen says that to account for man's position, even as he is found at the birth of our Lord, at least twenty thousand years must be supposed to have intervened between that event and the Deluge. Sir Charles Lyell speaks of “the vastness of the time” required for man's development into


[ocr errors]

his present condition, and affirms that “six thousand years are but a small portion of the time required to bring about such wide divergence from a common stock as between the Negroes and Greeks and Jews, Mongols and Hindoos, represented on the Egyptian monuments.” The difficulty then, put simply, is, that according to the Bible all men are descendants of a single pair, and that it is not quite six thousand years since that pair were created ; that all the differences by which the races of men differ from one another must have arisen therefore within six thousand years; and that six thousand years is very much too short a period for the occurrence of such extraordinary changes as must be admitted. If the Negro type was the original, it took myriads of years to introduce the Caucasian : if the Caucasian was the first, it took myriads of years to introduce the Negro. As a matter of fact we can prove that changes of type are, if any, so slow as to afford no basis on which a calculation could be founded. From the Egyptian monuments we learn that the Negro “of the true Nigritian stamp" was in existence 2,400 years before Christ. In the four thousand years that have elapsed since then the type has remained altogether unaltered.

The author starts with a special reply addressed to Sir Charles Lyell. We confess that even as an argumentum ad hominem it does not seem to us satisfactory. Here it is.

I have, then, only to assume one point that Sir Charles Lyell will concede,—the order of progress or development to have been from black to white,—and that he will pay us the compliment of being the more favoured

But of all the races that are akin to the Mongol or the Turanian, the Chinese are the whitest, and most nearly approach the European in colour. How many years, then, may we suppose that it took the Chinese to progress from the black state of the Egyptian ? As many, let us conjecture, as it took the Egyptian to progress linguistically from the state of the Chinese or Mongol !

That reasoning is not of a surety crystal clear. Sir Charles Lyell would probably reply to it that Egyptian and Chinese, as it were, started equally black and equally rude in language; the Egyptian progressed in language but did not (because he stopped at home) progress in colour ; the Chinese did not progress, at least very notably, in language, but (because he changed his climate, &c.) he progressed a good deal in colour. If there be any “entanglement” here, it is, we think, one of Lord Arundell's own making.

Omitting this reference to Sir Charles Lyell, the author commences his

answer to the proposed difficulty by stating his opinion that neither the theory of progress nor the theory of degeneration can account for the case of the Negro. He bases that position on the proven fact


That at the present time we find the Negro in the same relative position and with the same stamp of inferiority that we find indelibly impressed on him four thousand years ago. . ... The difficulty is, that whereas climate, food, change of circumstances, have in many ways modified other races, the Negro has resisted these influences, and has remained the same Negro we find him two thousand four hundred years before the coming of our Lord.

We have hardly a doubt that both Lord Arundell's facts and Lord Arundell's reasoning are in the last degree questionable. It is certain that there were Negroes in existence four thousand years ago, and that there are Negroes exactly like them in existence to-day. But the Negrocs of the present are either in the same external conditions as the Negroes of the past, or have not changed these conditions for a period sufficiently long to make the change tell. The remark about “the stamp of inferiority” being found “indelibly impressed” on the Negro of the Egyptian monuments is only rhetorical, and the use of the word " indelibly” savours too much of that class of rhetoric which Mr. Disraeli calls “ heedless."

The dark gentlemen on the Egyptian monuments prove nothing, for instance, against those who hold the theory of degeneration. No one, except Milton and the poets, knows to what precise type our first parents belonged; they may have been so dusky in colour that by the time the Egyptian monuments were constructed many of their descendants could have got black at their leisure. Nor, on the other hand, does Lord Arundell's reference prove anything against those who hold the progressive theory. To prove against them, a case should be shown where a tribe of Negroes settled, say in England, four thousand years ago, adopted new habits of life, and yet kept to their colour and their other characteristies through all these years. No such case, no case that has given the Negro the shadow of a chance, has ever been shown. When Lord Arundell speaks of the Negro “resisting the influences of climate, food, change of circumstances,” he speaks what is either not truc enough or not true at all. It is not true enough if the resistance has endured for only a comparatively short period of years; to say that the resistance has been prolonged over a period sufficiently large to justify Lord Arundell's conclusion, is not truc

at all.

We make these remarks principally because we notice in our author a tendency that we do not admire. There are men, we apprehend, who, on this matter, will, though fighting for the same cause as be, be unable to accept either Lord Arundell's science or Lord Arundell’s theology. These will be obliged, at least for the present, to solve the proposed difficulty in the old-fashioned way, that is, by maintaining that the colour, &c. of a people are susceptible of indefinite modification from climate and other ex

[ocr errors]

ternal conditions. But Lord Arundell has a tendency to cut that ground from under our feet. He (page 77) quotes with apparent satisfaction the testimony that "the American Indians are of a uniform copper-colour from north to south, in Canada and on the line,” and argues, against Sir John Lubbock, that this case has both the qualities required by that writer, namely, lapse of time and difference of external conditions. Lord Arundell must therefore allow the inference that, according to him, the oldfashioned explanation will not suffice even for the case of the American Indians. But does he not see that this creates a new difficulty and that we shall be as much puzzled, by-and-by, by the American's redness as we have always been by the blackness of the Negro ? It is true that we are acquainted with the red man for only four hundred years. But during that time he has remained, what of him has remained at all, unchanged in hue Whenever and wherever he first got his redness he has it for four hundred years, and in so far as we can judge would, if left to enjoy his hunting-grounds, keep it for ever. We are not asking Lord Arundell to put a stopper on truth. If the colour of a race be in its destiny and not in its external conditions, directly caused by miracle and not by natural agencies, by all means let that fact be proclaimed. But, "entia non sunt multiplicanda præter necessitatem." First of all let that fact be proved.

The author's own solution of the difficulty is that proposed by De Maistre, or rather, we should say, popularized by De Maistre, for it was entertained by Schoolmen centuries before De Maistre was born. As stated by the author, it extends over more than a dozen pages of close and elaborate and very able reasoning. In brief it is this. Chanaan, the son of Cham (for present purposes Cham himself need not be disturbed), was cursed by his grandfather Noah. What were the effects of the curse has ever been a vexed question with Scriptural students. That it had one effect, the making the posterity of Chanaan in some way subject to the children of Japheth is sufficiently evident from the Scriptural text, though how far in the posterity of Chanaan that effect was to extend, - for four generations or for forty, cannot be determined. That it had any other effect whatever is extremely uncertain. But Lord Arundell, following De Maistre, contends that it had a second effect, and that too a much more striking effect than the first. He maintains that, by the curse of Noah, Chanaan and Chanaan's posterity were stamped with “the stamp of inferiority,” indelible blackness; that as the hands of the Patriarch were raised in malediction, the colour of Chanaan underwent an awful change, and he stood suddenly before his brethren cursed with the characteristics which made him the fit progenitor of a new, unnatural, and hideous

This theory, Lord Arundell says, “is adequate to the

[ocr errors]



explanation of the phenomena, does not clash with history” (by which we presume he means Scripture history)," and is sustained by tradition. Nevertheless he apprehends that “this view will be combated as much from the point of view of Scriptural exegesis as of scientific speculation.

The theological objections which our author presumes he will have to meet he meets by anticipation. The sudden blackening of Chanaan is not “more revolting" than the sudden damnation of Lucifer, or the sudden reduction of Adam to shame and want and decay and the doom of death. Besides, he argues, they who admit the veracity of the Bible must admit that, if not directly, at least indirectly blackness was a result of the curse. For, as Latham shows in his “ Ethnology, " "certain conditions not merely of colour but moral and intellectual, are the inseparable accompaniments of geographical location.” But it is laid down in Deuteronomy (xxxii. 8) that God himself arranged the distribution of the human

The same fact is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (xvii. 26). Since, therefore, God apportioned the sons of Chanaan to a particular district, He is accountable for the blackness that followed their location there. “If then,” concludes the author (page 90), “the different races of mankind according to their merits or demerits were apportioned to or miraculously directed or impelled to respective portions of the earth which necessarily superinduced certain effects, is not the curse as apparent in its indirect operation as it would have been in its suddenness and directness?"

Not quite so apparent in its indirect operation, we should at once answer, unless it be properly proved that there is either a divine command or a divinely-ordained necessity obliging the children of the curse to keep to those regions where alone from “geographical location ” their blackness would be properly ensured. Such a command or such a necessity the author is at liberty to assume, if he pleases. But he has not proved the existence of either. He has not proved the existence of the command. Neither has he proved the existence of the necessity. He could not prove it. For, as a matter of fact, sons of Chanaan did retire from those portions of the earth to which they “were apportioned or miraculously directed or impelled.” But if the sons of Chanaan were at liberty to leave the “ black country” whenever they chose, blackness was not even on the “indirect” theory a part of their malediction.

It is evident, however, that the theory on which it is only indirectly that blackness becomes a part of the Chanaanitish curse, does not satisfy Lord Arundell. It is equally evident that logically he cannot maintain it except as an argumentum ad hominem. lor, in it, the blackness is really ascribed to climate and special

« FöregåendeFortsätt »